Peters Valley plans new exhibition

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The opening reception for a new exhibition — "Matt Kenney: 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks" — at Peters Valley School of Craft will take place 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18.

The exhibition will be on display through March 26.

Professional woodworker and writer Matt Kenney felt his design skills had reached a plateau. He created a challenge for himself because he wanted the repetition of making box after box to push his ideas and technical skills to a higher level. He assigned himself to make one unique box a week for a year culminating in this exhibition showcasing the results.

Kenney created 52 unique boxes by using the finer skills needed to create magnificent joinery and variations on this theme.

A selection of boxes are meant to stand alone and others are part of a series that are meant to be displayed together. Each box highlights the tonal qualities and variations of grain naturally found in the woods chosen such as cherry, walnut, maple, cocobolo, douglas fir, oak and ash. Many also incorporate a subtle palette of greens, blues or yellow milk paints and one even has polka-dots.

Some are lined with a fun and surprising fabric and others are not, but each is created with a particular use in mind such as storing special rings, memorabilia or teas and others are like miniature treasure chests.

Kenney has made things from wood his entire life. He made his first piece of furniture — a storage box for his wife—15 years ago, in the attic above their duplex. It wasn't much to look at, but making that box awoke a passion for making furniture, a passion that has driven him ever since. He has made a lot of furniture since then, constantly striving to improve his craftsmanship and design. The result of his efforts is furniture that is modern but grounded in the best of classic design, able to sit harmoniously alongside a wide range of furniture styles, and built to survive generations of daily use. When he's not in his shop making furniture, he is the special projects editor at Fine Woodworking magazine.

Kenney teaches a variety of workshops regularly at Peters Valley, and is scheduled to teach a class in Japanese Kumiko Sept. 2 to 4.

He featured each box as a blog entry on his website. Visit for details about the ideas and technical aspects of each of the 52 boxes.

The Gallery at Peters Valley School of Craft is located at 19 Kuhn Road, Layton, N.J. 07851 and is open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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